Drones, blockchain and big data will help keep pace with future milk demands

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13 Jun 2018 --- Between now and 2030 worldwide demand growth for milk and milk products will be three times the level of current US milk production, according to the main findings of the latest publication from the IFCN – the Dairy Research Network. One of the key points of debate at the 19th IFCN Dairy Conference, which opened on this week in Cork, Ireland, centered around future milk demands and the progress made in Irish dairy developments. 

Currently, approximately 876 million tons of milk is produced worldwide with Oceania, EU and India among the leading producers.

However, conference delegates discussed “how much additional milk is needed in 2030?”

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One of the key points of debate at the 19th IFCN Dairy Conference,
which opened on this week in Cork, Ireland, centered around future
milk demands and the progress made in Irish dairy developments.

Dr. Torsten Hemme, Founder and Managing Director of the IFCN says there will be an increased demand which will be covered by higher global milk supply. The dynamics of structural changes of dairy farms internationally will continue and farms will intensify their farming systems, he believes. 

“More milk will be needed on the market. The increase of demand is not only due to more people living in the world, but also the per capita consumption will increase, due to growing prosperity and global investments in dairy product development,” he says. 

“By 2030, IFCN forecasts an increase in milk production per farm of over 50 percent.”

The IFCN conference brings over 80 participants from more than 40 countries to Ireland to see first-hand the sustainable, low-cost grazing system operated by Irish dairy farms and discuss latest international dairy developments.

Trevor Donnellan, Head of the Teagasc Agricultural Economics and Farm Surveys Department says the conference allows international researchers to gain a better understanding of how the recent expansion of Irish milk production has been achieved. 

“Visitors have been particularly impressed by the way in which dairy expansion has been achieved at a relatively modest cost,” he says. 

Conference participants include researchers and representatives from dairy and dairy-related companies. 

A key topic for discussion is the future role of new technologies in milk production. The most significant developments that are expected in the future are in the area of biotechnology and big data. 

“New technologies will come from the capacity to collect more data,” says Robert Walker from the Alltech Company.

“Think about drones, blockchains and picture analysis. Better technology will also help to interpret data to make production more efficient and help to safeguard resources.”

Meanwhile, the short-term IFCN Outlook points towards a continuing increase in milk supply worldwide. 

In 2017 world milk production grew by nearly 4 percent, which is significantly higher than the growth level achieved in 2016. However, growth has started to slow down considerably in 2018 due to climate anomalies in New Zealand, the EU and Argentina and a challenging economic situation for US dairy farmers.

IFCN expect supply and demand growth to be more aligned, with an expected world milk price level of US$35-37/per 100kg, during the second half of this year. 

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